Motorcycle Decarbonisation: Government Urged to Rethink its Strategy

NMC calls for the DfT to take an approach which is genuinely technology neutral and to develop a strategy taking international developments into account, rather than imposing UK-only arbitrary targets.

September 21, 2022

The National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) has today submitted its response to the Government’s consultation on when to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles. The response can be found here. The response covers several areas related to decarbonisation, including the market, economics, infrastructure, e-fuels, heritage protection and rider licensing. It also provides information on developments internationally, including global estimates of motorcycling’s progress towards Net Zero.

While recognising the need to progressively reduce Co2 emissions from new vehicles towards the 2050 net-zero goal, the NMC does not support the approach to decarbonising L-Category vehicles as proposed in the consultation. The Council does not support arbitrary UK only targets for ending the sale of new non-zero emission motorcycles and believes that the UK should instead move towards net-zero goals on the basis of internationally agreed targets and strategies, working with both motorcycle riders and the industry to develop an approach which is in line with the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament on September 8th that Government policy should “… ensure we deliver net zero by 2050 in a way that is pro-business and pro-growth.” The NMC believes that decarbonisation policy should also be pro-consumer choice.

The NMC welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement of a review of net zero policy which is being led by Chris Skidmore MP. The Council urges the review to also consider closely a more appropriate path towards L-Category vehicle decarbonisation. Additionally, The NMC welcomes the Government’s position that there will be no ban on the use of Internal Combustion Engined (ICE) motorcycles already manufactured and that ICE motorcycles can continue to be traded on the used motorcycle market. This avoids the spectre of ‘mass scrappage’ of ICE motorcycles - with the associated highly negative environmental costs.

The NMC believes that all technologies and innovations should be ‘in play’ – including clean and synthetic fuels – and not just battery electric only. The Government needs to demonstrate more ambition through supporting innovation in these areas, rather than restricting development to just the one narrow pathway of battery electric. The Government is called upon to take a genuinely technology neutral approach. The move towards net zero is a matter which is too technologically detailed to restrict it to battery electrification only. Imposing specific technologies means limiting choice and therefore creating a constraint on innovation.

Motorcycle manufacture is a global, not local, matter. As a result, the UK must move to globally agreed strategies for net-zero and not introduce arbitrary national timetables in advance of these, which will make little difference to the global CO2 picture in any case. Such an approach could likely lead to market and economic shocks in the UK, including, potentially, market withdrawal by the global manufacturers.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “Successful transition in any field requires those affected to be content with changes proposed. In the case of zero emission motorcycles, particularly in the premium motorcycle market, current product availability, it’s suitability for the wide range of rider needs,  prices and current low market penetration, suggests that much more will need to be done before a reasonable target date for full zero emission new production can be established.

"Although riders are willing to try new technologies, if products don’t meet their needs, the market will be severely impacted. Therefore, it is clear that a different regulatory approach will be needed which recognises where electrification works for the market and where it currently poses challenges which cannot be ignored.

“The Government should show more ambition in this area. Net zero should not mean the end of the internal combustion engine, but instead we should be looking towards a ‘mixed economy’ of battery electric, clean ICE fuels and other types of technology, with current motorcycle types properly recognised from now as a lower Co2 transport choice. Innovation should be encouraged and not restricted to narrow pathways.”


1. For further comment from the NMC please contact Craig Carey-Clinch, on 07979 757484 / A further link to the response is here.

2. National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle Union, BikeTrac, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmart, the National Motorcycle Dealers Association, Plantec Assist, the Trail Riders Fellowship and the Vintage Motor Cycle Club

(Photo Courtesy of Zero Motorcycles: